By Lucy Notarantonio
A young mum has bravely shared photos of herself to illustrate the two faces of depression.
Milly Smith, 26, hopes to reduce the stigma attached to mental health and posts nothing but ‘real’ photos on Instagram without filters.
The mum-of-one uses the social media platform to promote body positivity and show ‘mental health doesn’t have a face’ by posting smiling and crying photos side by side that both symbolise anxiety and depression.
Milly, from Hull, wants to normalise mental health and considers her social media platform ‘a safe space for people to speak about their struggles.’
She said: “I want to encourage people to speak out about their mental health problems rather than bottle it all up.
“I joined Instagram two and half years ago and I decided from the get-go that I am going to be me as I was tired of hiding and feeling ashamed of how I feel.
“I have battled with depression and anxiety since I was ten years old which led to an eating disorder and attempted suicide.
“That was the lowest I have ever been, but it made me realise I don’t want to live like that anymore, I want to wake up and think about another day with my son Elijah, four, rather than thinking about the size of my thighs.”
After attempting to commit suicide for the second time aged 24, Milly decided to act as an advocate for self-acceptance and to speak out about her ‘struggles rather than bottling it up’.
She wants people to ‘delve deeper’ and recognise someone with a mental health condition may not always be crying.
She adds: “I am not a medical professional, but I am trying my hardest to normalise mental health and help people realise you can have bad and good days.
“It requires immense strength to speak out and I got to the lowest I had ever been to realise ‘I don’t want to live like this anymore’.
“When I first posted on Instagram, I felt a wave of confidence as I didn’t realise it was going to blow up as much as it did.”
Milly’s Instagram boasts 178k followers – many of which praise her for promoting body positivity by celebrating her cellulite, stretch marks and on some occasions armpit hair.
She is currently writing an interactive mental health book that will include tips on how to small talk if you have anxiety, colouring in and other aspects on how to take ones mind off things.
She adds: “I remember hiding my legs in black jeans in the height of summer at 15 whilst my friends ran around in daisy dukes because my stretch marks were so shameful to me.
“But now I want to remind people that we are worthy of love and it doesn’t mean you aren’t sexy because you look different.
“We tend to only see bodies from certain angles and women forget that there is so many other women in the world, all with different bodies to be proud of.
“I receive around 15 messages a day of praise and people saying I saved their life or made them more comfortable with themselves and less ashamed.
“Self-acceptance is a journey, it takes patience, dedication and kindness to yourself and others.”
To read more, follow: @millykeepsgoing